How to Make a Dreamcatcher

When Hope and I were making Write On!  Unit 11, we wanted to incorporate making a dreamcatcher into the activities.  A few weeks after we finished up, I realized that I had completely left it out!  Well, Joelle and I had so much fun making them that I thought I'd pop in with instructions in case you wanted to do this with your kiddos this summer.  You could also save it for a fun activity for next year :)  HERE is where we got our inspiration.  
Here's what you will need:  
Metal or Embroidery Hoop (Choose your size)
Ribbon or Pipe Cleaners
Embellishments:  puffs, felt, beads, stickers, feathers, etc

First up, tie a knot in the yarn around your hoop.  Then, start wrapping, wrapping, wrapping until you have covered your hoop with yarn.
Tip- hold the knot in one hand while you wrap with the other.  That help things stay tight and tidy!

 Once you have covered the ring with yarn and it's nice & tight... make a loop to hang it by with the extra yarn from your starting point.  I also tied off the finished end here.
 Next, it is time to do the inside of the hoop.  Tie a piece of yarn around the hoop.  Stretch and pull in different directions across the hoop until it looks the way you want it to.  Make sure to pull it tight because it will slip and slide if not!  You'll tie that off when finished and cut of any loose ends.
 Using ribbon, yarn, or pipe cleaners, tie different strands to the bottom- the amount is up to you!
Using beads, felt, poms, stickers, or anything else you have around the house/classroom, decorate the ribbon.  We used hot glue to keep it together.

When you are finished you will have a cute little dreamcatcher that's just perfect for summer decor AND you'll have entertained the children for a good hour, ha!!!

Summer Reading

Summer has officially started in our household.  Although Joelle worked really hard last year, and was very ready to be on summer break, she does not want to stop reading.  She could read all day every single day and be just as content as can be.  I often find myself saying "oh my stars, put the books away already!"  And then follow that with, "DID I REALLY JUST TELL MY DAUGHTER TO STOP READING?"  Ha!  

Well, my little reader wanted to track her minutes this summer.  While our school uses Scholastic summer reading online, I wanted her to be able to take ownership of it... and we don't do much computer/personal device time in our house.  So, I decided to make her one of my Reading Bucket List Challenges.
She got to work right away on completing a challenge.
First up, read to a stuffed animal!  That's a piece of cake since she does it all the time :)
Little man isn't quite ready to track his own reading, but he loves books just as much as Joelle.  He's learning how to listen to books on CD right now, and this moment was just too precious not to capture!
Along with Joelle's challenges, she also needed to write down her summer reading minutes so I made her these quick calendars to go into her booklet. You can click HERE to grab June-Aug bucket calendar freebies!  PS- Don't you just LOVE the fonts?  Those are by my sweet friend Babbling Abby!
 You can check out all of the bucket list challenges HERE :)
Happy Summer Reading, friends!!!

Setting up a Classroom Library

Over the  years I have gone through several classroom library makeovers.  I've tried different tubs, labels, sorting systems, and anything else that could possibly make my life easier.  I'm going to take you through some things that have and have not worked for me, and some solutions that have made my life a little easier!
There are so many ways to organize your classroom library.  How you set up your books, bins, or whatever you may use needs to work for YOU and YOUR students!  Think about your grade level of learners, how many books you have, and how you want your students to access these books.  

Do you want a leveled library?  Check out this beautiful library from First Grade Made.  Her labels are by Maria Manore Gavin.
Do you have older students that can learn how an actual library works?  Check out this library by Lessons with Laughter.  She has book bin labels HERE and HERE!
Do you have 8 trillion books and just not sure where to start?  Check out THIS post by Kindergals!  Kim takes you through sorting, leveling, and managing!!  Her labels can be fond HERE.
I've had lots of different bins over the years.  One problem I have is changing my classroom theme or decor way too often.  So when I had primary colored book bins, that only worked for a short amount of time...
After about 7 years I moved to clear bins.  I liked this look a lot because they could be used no matter what colors I decorated with.
But this kept happening!  My bins weren't the perfect size.  The books would fold over and bend because the bins weren't quite tall enough! 
My new solution?  Wire Baskets from Wal-Mart.  I know they may seem pricey, and they may not what you are looking for, but I can't tell you how much money I've spent on bins over the years.  Plus, with the amount of books that I've purchased, I might as well take care of them!!!  I decided to not have a million different baskets for every single little topic or author, so I also didn't need quite as many baskets as before.  The nice thing about these baskets is they come in a few different sizes.  I bought a mix of the medium and large baskets based on how many books I had in each category.  The medium baskets are really the perfect size for most of my categories.  I also love how you can see straight through to the books.  This makes for easy perusing and choosing! 
The first thing I did was bring ALL of my books home.  I began sorting them into broad categories rather than by author or character.  Then this happened...
I gave up approximately 100 times and just plopped on top of the books.  I may have been a bit dramatic, but it felt like the task was never going to be complete!!!!  My guest room was a sea of books for a couple of weeks and it just about drove me bonkers.  I'm not good at having uncompleted projects.  But I managed to push on!!!

For so many years I had books that just didn't have a home because they didn't fit into the categories I had chosen.  I had a Kevin Henkes bin, but there were only 8 books in it.  Maybe at one point I had a ton of Fly Guy books, but some got lost and destroyed so that category dwindled down.  I wanted the maximum amount of books in my library.  So, broad categories it was!
I don't know if you can see this or not, but look closely.  Do you see the ziploc bags?  I also put my books on CD in the book bin buckets.  SAY WHAT?!  It's true.  I have an addiction to buying books AND books on CD.  I decided that some kids may just want to read those books instead of listening to them on CD.  Why not go ahead and sort those books with the other ones?  Students are more than capable of grabbing a book on CD from a book bin, I promise!  Now they are sorted by category instead of just all grouped together.  This will also help me to see if we have a book on the subject I need for teaching :)

Although my categories have always seemed pretty simple to me (I mean don't all Eric Carle books look similar enough to you??!!) my students seemed to never get what I was thinking!  Here's what I decided to do...

-Each category has a number on the basket.
-Each book inside that basket now has a number on the upper righthand corner.

Simple, right?!  Now I can look through a bin and easily see if any books are misplaced!  When labels are on the back, inside, or somewhere else it seemed like students never looked at them.  I was constantly going to the library getting frustrated because so many books weren't in their homes!  While my kids were working they would be interrupted with, "Is this real life, guys??  Why are there Clifford books in the Science book bin???"  #iamashamedtosayit #butitstrue
I now have 25 baskets.  When creating my categories I thought about books I would be buying in the future.  I didn't overthink things.  If a book was about building character, bullying, or being unique- those went in my "character" bucket.  I also grouped certain books.  I have a lot of Arthur and Amelia Bedelia books, but not enough to fill a whole basket.  So, I grouped favorite characters together. 
PS- I really wish I would have paid attention to the labels that are straightened before snapping a picture.  

Right now all of my books are living at home, so I just set up a special place for our library in the playroom for my two kiddos.  They read ALL THE TIME, so it made sense to give them access to all the books throughout the summer since I brought them home to organize anyways!  They are already rockin' the new organization.  Book clean-up is now fast and easy :)
Before I go, I wanted to share the labels that I made in case you wanted them for your classroom library.  I'm not making different styles or sharing my specific basket labels because I know they won't be what you need.  However, if you'd like to use my template to make your own click HERE 

Here's how to use them:
Do you have pictures of your classroom library online or on a blog?  I'd love for you to leave a link below so that people can see your library!  I know that my solution won't work for everyone, and it's always so nice to see other options out there!!!  

Boot Camp Freebie!

Remember when I said that I'd be back for our Writing Boot Camp freebie?!  Well here I am!  We decided that your kiddos needed to feel the boot camp vibe a little more, so our freebie includes a hat and dog tags that your students can wear while going through Writing Boot Camp!
Students can write their information, writing tips, or the writing steps on their dog togs... it's up to you!  We just made the hat for fun, but I'm certain you could incorporate it into one of the lessons as well.  They could even do a little writing on it :)  These can also be saved for one of our national holidays and military celebration days!

And because she's the cutest little model out there....
To find out more information about Write On! Unit One click HERE.  To check out the freebie click HERE!

Writing Boot Camp!

Happy Summer, friends!  Before I take my afternoon nap (I wish, ha!) I thought I'd give you a little up close look at Write On!  Boot Camp!  Hope and I tried to think of every little thing you would need to get your students writing during the first month of school :) 

This unit is divided into four weeks.  I wouldn't recommend starting the very first week of school because you just won't have time.  I would start your first full week of instruction when you are into regular routines.

We start very simple during Boot Camp.  Your students will learn how to brainstorm, organize, revise, edit, and publish but they will take it super slow!
 They will definitely be taking it slow, BUT students will stay engaged because the activities are hands-on and all boot camp themed! 
 You do NOT need props, but here are some fun ones that we found.  Of course, always check out dollar sections and stores because they have the best prices!


During Week One students will be completing a Survival Guide with writing that really is geared for the beginning of a school year.  In Week 2 students will work on all about me riddles.  Both of the writing activities are simple because we really want students to learn the process rather than working on a difficult writing piece.  We also want them to feel empowered and like they really can write.  You'll find that most students can definitely write about themselves!
 After students are exposed to two weeks of writing and really enjoying what it looks like to devote a portion of their day to writing, you will spend two weeks focusing on the basics of Write On!  Workshop.  You will go through what it looks like to do journal writing, use a writing folder, set writing goals, track their progress, etc.  The minilessons are structured so that students understand what is expected each day during their writing time.
 Of course, we can't only teach procedures.  We wanted to make it fun, interactive, and engaging for our learners!
You'll want to purchase this book for our lesson about using mentor texts to write:
Your students will also learn how to communicate during peer share time, how to offer constructive feedback, and how to reflect on their writing each day.
You can find out more by clicking on the image below.  I'll be back later this week with a Boot Camp freebie, so make sure you check back!!!
Before I go, we do not have release dates for the other units.  We promise that we are working diligently to complete them in a timely manner :)

End of the Year Bulletin Board

A few weeks ago I was asked to make a bulletin board for the main hallway of our school.  Here is a little picture of me putting it together...
I freehanded the people, but I thought some of you might like to have the words that I used!  You can always save them for next year :) 

You can grab the bulletin board words as a freebie HERE!

Thankfully there are only 2 full days and 2 half days until we are doing a little more of this...
Can't wait for lots of family time this summer!!!